tv PBS News Hour PBS July 17, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
wnyc radio on her tour of the nation's battleground states. >> brown: from panama, the story of a tug-of-war in the rain forest between a canadian mining company and the local community. >> is building what would be one of the biggest compromises in the world. right in the middle of the rain forest. home to thousands of animal and plant species. some of them endangered. >> ifill: and we close with a mystery about an electric guitar that just might be the same one bob dylan played at the 1965 newport folk festival. it's rock and roll history. we'd love to see his guitar to either learn if we made a mistake and how we made the mistake or if we have the real thing. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the troubles with the u.s. economy-- and the possible fallout-- were on full display today. a task force report told of states facing ever-deeper budget holes. but the chairman of the federal reserve withheld any promise of immediate help. ben bernanke came before the senate banking committee acknowledging that the economy has suffered a series of setbacks. a slump in hiring and job
growth, a slow down in manufacturing activity can reduce spending by consumers. while fighting the trend, the fed chair would not commit on if or when the central bank might act again to boost growth. >> we're looking very carefully at the economy, trying to judge whether or not the loss of moment actual we've seen recently -- momentum we've seen recently is enduring and whether or not the economy will make progress to lower unemployed and more satisfactory labor market conditions. if that does not occur, obviously we have to consider additional steps. >> senators from the two parties pushed bernanke in opposing directions. tennessee republican said the fed should take no new steps leaving it instead to congress to fix what ails the economy. >> i think further actions take the impetus off us to act responsibleally. i wish we had a chairman of the fed that sometimes would say
look we're not doing anything now quit looking to us. are you tempted ever to say that to congress. would you not say that now? i don't think that's my responsibility. i've been assigned to do, to focus on maximum employment and price stability not to hold threats over congress' head. congress is in charge here not the federal reserve. >> in turn, democrat charles schumer of new york argued nothing will get through congress in this election year so the central bank must act. >> given the political realities, mr. chairman, particularly in this election year, i'm afraid the fed is the only game in town. i would urge you now more than ever to take whatever actions are warranted by the economic conditions regardless of the political pressure. >> to reach a deficit deal by january 1st to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. party leaders insisted today they won't let that happen. >> we're not going to let anybody's taxes go up at the end
of the year. >> american people don't deserve to watch this debate come down to the last minute. >> but any compromise was far from clear. with that in mind, a number of former political leaders from both parties joined by several business ceo's announced what they called a campaign to fix the debt. the group included former chief of staff to president clinton. >> if we did nothing and we barrel tough this fiscal cliff at the end of the year, we're going to have about $7 trillion hit this country right in the gut and that is enough to put our country back into recession. that we cannot have. >> also today a separate group the state budget task force issued yet another dire warning, this one concerning the precarious fiscal health of many states. >> well we are digging a very
very serious hole for us. and the real victims of that are going to be the social services, the infrastructure. that's what's being cut already. >> the report looked at six of the most populous states, california, texas, illinois, virginia, new jersey and new york. the problems they face include growing medicaid spending and pension liabilities at a time when state revenues and federal grants aren't keeping pace. and it's to the last of these issues-- the fiscal problems of the states-- that we go into more detail on now. richard ravitch joins us. a former lieutenant governor of new york, he co-chaired the task force issuing today's report with former fed chairman paul volcker. also with us is susan urahn, managing director of the pew center on the states. >> dirk ravitch what jumps out is the situation is much worse than thought, much worse than states are willing to admit and
worse than anybody seems to have a grasp on what to do. am i overstating these problems? >> no, you're not. and it's a function arising from things. one, there are basic expenditures like medicaid and retirement expenditures which are growing at a faster rate in state and local revenues. number two, states for a long long time had been using gimmicky to balance their budget and weren't call to account by that. wall street's been willing to aid and abet that process and out of perfectly valid and wonderful motives, people have made a lot of commitments but we've been unwilling to provide the revenues to match the commitments that we've made as a society. >> well susan urahn, you pick up on the revenue side because one of the things in the report is that they're not matching. but they're also lower than they've been. there are a lot of things hitting the states.
>> that's true. i think revenues are down in part because of the fiscal crises but it's not a short term problem. if you look at the revenue base, the tax base they have a 20th century tax system but it's overlaid on the 21st century economy. so they're not taxing. they're taxing an ever diminishing part of what the economy is producing. so that means they're just gradually eroding from terms of revenue. if you look out over the long term it becomes a really serious problem. >> and politically untenable to try to erase that. >> certainly as you look at the impact of the recession, the primary way the states dealt with the fiscal stress was cuts. >> what would you add on the revenue side of that. >> susan stated it very very well. sales taxes are not growing because more and more transactions take place on the internet. gas taxes which finance a lot of
infrastructure spendure are not going up because the tax is based on gallonage and not on price. and people drive more fuel efficient cars and buy less gasoline. most states who have taxing systems that are geared to the federal system, they already get adjusted when the federal tax system gets adjusted so there's more volatility. what susan said is absolutely accurate. that's one of the major problems. >> in terms of the demands on the states, and we've talked about this before in the program, one you've been interested in is the pension. now, fill that picture in a little bit. what kind of obligations are states under paying at this point. >> our last report showed about a $1.38 trillion gap what they have promised to pay that's pensions and healthcare and what they have actually set aside to pay it. it's a long term liability but basically we've seen increasing amounts of stress that states
are facing on this but it's not every state but it's a fair number of states across the country. so i think the states that governor ravitch looked at in his report are pretty representative what we're seeing nationally. >> i have a lot of respect for the studies but we see the problem's far more severe. we think just with respect to the healthcare liabilities to public employees that the unfounded amount of that throughout the country is in and of itself in excess of a trillion dollars. and we think the under funding of pensions depends on the interest rate you want to make about what those pension funds are going to earn. if you assume that they are going to earn 7.5 to 8% then the under funding of pension funds is in the billion dollar category. >> you're suggesting -- >> well we don't try to take a position on what the right interest rate assumptions should be, but there are an awful lot
of people who think in the economy we're living in we're likely to be de-leveraging for some period of time. 8 percenters is not the direct one. >> you're also suggesting that states are using these pension funds to help mask and you were talking about this earlier, mask the larger problem is there an attractive place they can go. >> no. i think people are borrowing not for that reason although in new york state in a grievous mistake at passing a law which enables the states and cities and counties to borrow from the pension fund to make the payments statutorily obligated to make. and the states of new jersey and illinois there's no requirement that the state make the payments to assure that their funds are actually sound. >> the other reports is sort of
a fiscal cliff fears. is it not possible these deplanned and the cutbacks to the states will get even worse. >> a lot of uncertainty that states are facing as the federal government begins to grapple with the deficit the proostles put forward are going to have a large impact on states. one problem is the federal government is not paying enough attention to what those impacts are going to be but states will feel it when the federal government starts to cut. federal state and local finances are all very intertwined. >> what do you call for? what can happen sort of quickly? >> we don't attempt to tell the elected officials of this country how to apportion the cost of this between recipients of public services, public employees or taxpayers because in a democracy there's no absolute right or wrong answer. there's a question that should be resolved through negotiation and compromise. that's when our elected officials should be doing. >> you're saying be clear about
the problem. >> i'm saying be honest about it. stop using our money and proceeds from the sale of assets and treating them as revenues. that's your recurring expenditures with recurring revenues. do five-year projections. inform the public. not mask the truth. tell people that we have a serious structural deficit in most states that the cities and counties of this country are going to be at the greatest point of this and the impact is going to rest in mostly on education infrastructure investment. >> all right. richard ravitch, susan urahn, thank you both very much. >> still to come on the newshour, the devastating drought. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour, the devastating drought; the olympic security debacle; the battle for independent voters; mines deep
in the rain forest; and a dispute over a famous guitar. but first, with the other news of the day, here's kwame holman. >> holman: fed chairman bernanke defended the central bank's response to a british banking scandal. barclays has admitted underreporting its cost of borrowing to artificially lower the libor, a benchmark interest rate. the fed's new york branch warned of the problem in 2008, but bernanke said it lacked authority to do more. he also said the problem may not be over. >> i can't give that assurance with full confidence because the british banker's association did not adopt most of the suggestions made by the federal reserve bank of new york. they made a relatively small number of changes. i think it's likely that the concerns are less now because we are no longer in the crises period. >> holman: in addition to barclays, british officials are investigating a number of other major banks. leaders of the british bank hsbc went before a u.s. senate committee today over allegations of laundering drug money.
a senate investigation found the bank failed to stop mexican cartels from running funds through its u.s. operations. the head of the u.s. branch said hsbc had been lax. >> we must have the proper controls and systems in place to ensure that we are doing the right business in the right places with the right customers and that our customers' transactions are properly monitored. >> holman: also athe hearing, the bank's top compliance officer announced he was stepping down from that position, but will remain at the bank. in syria today, fighting between government forces and rebels escalated in damascus. and hundreds more people fled into neighboring turkey and jordan, where the british foreign secretary toured the scene. we have a report on the fighting and the refugees from john ray of independent television news. >> this is a battle that the president cannot afford to lose. his tanks and his troops are pouring into damascus. to come front the rememberral
fighters who have held out for three days. these are not -- the streets near the heart of the capital . the fighting has raised and the numbers are taking flight of sword. through the searing heat of a dusty camp on the jordannian border. he came here today to hear stories. >> sheer barbaric criminality that they are on display when you listen to the people here. >> but to those suffering most diplomatic efforts to solve this crises, is vastly irrelevant. >> 2000 people have arrived at this camp in the past three days. they have scheduled their lives -- par of the price being paid throughout the civil war to do everything to stop it.
these women have lost more than a dozen family members, husbands, sons and brothers. >> if we stayed we too would have been slaughtered. today in damascus even the call to prayer is drowned out by gunfire, any regime -- is a regime of power. >> holman: the u.n. security council is to meet tomorrow on possible sanctions against the syrian regime. so far, russia and china have opposed a tougher response. in the u.s. presidential campaign, republican mitt romney charged president obama had insulted american business leaders. on friday, mr. obama pointed to government projects that contribute to commercial success. at one point, he said, "if you've got a business, you didn't build that. somebody else made that happen." romney fired off a response today in pennsylvania. >> to say something like that is
not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur and innovator in america. president obama attacks success and therefore under president obama we have less success and i will change that. >> holman: the president did not respond to romney as he campaigned today in texas. instead, he urged supporters not to be diverted by attacks on his record. >> their message is the economy's not where it needs to be and it's obama's fault. there will be variations on the themes but it will be the same message over and over and over again. that's what they're banking on because they can't sell their economic plan. >> holman: also today, a romney supporter, former new hampshire governor john sununu, criticized the obama record on business. he said, "i wish this president would learn how to be an american." later, sununu said he meant the president needs to learn the "american formula for creating
business." wall street managed gains today, thanks to stronger earnings from mattel, coca-cola, and other big firms. the dow jones industrial average gained 78 points to close at 12,805. the nasdaq rose 13 points to close at 2910. pulitzer-prize winning columnist william raspberry died today at his home in washington. he had prostate cancer. raspberry wrote for the "washington post" for nearly 40 years, and became one of the most widely read black journalists of his generation. in 1994, he became just the cond black writer to win the pulitzer prize for commentary. william raspberry was 76 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: dry, hot weather is shriveling crops in the heart of america's farm belt, and squeezing food prices here and around the world. ray suarez has our story. >> they're not growing as quickly, they're getting burned >> suarez: that lament at a community kitchen in indianapolis is being heard amid the most extensive drowft in
decades. according to the national climatic center more than 48 states seen here in yellow orange and maroon were in moderate to extreme drought in june. the rockies, central plains and ohio valley were hardest hit. from march to june those three regions received the least precipitation in the u.s. to make matters worse the last 12 months were the hottest since recordkeeping began in 1895. if it goes on much longer, the drought could begin to rival the dust bowl of the 30's or the 50's. that's the last time so much of the country was so dry. if we don't get rain the next five to ten days there probably won't be anything here to harvest. nearly 40 merse percent of the u.s. corn crop is already in poor condition and the projected hard vifs is steadily falling. that means less feed for livestock and for consumer rising prices for produce, meat and other product that rely
heavily on corn. >> suarez: we get two perspectives. brian is a climate all gist at the university of nebraska and david beckman is winner of the world food prize on non-profit, non-partisan christian organization working to end hurricane katrina. brian, this growing season started with a lot of high hopes. the most expensive plantings in history and forecasts of a great crop. do things abruptly get worse? >> well, we started the year off with a good planning season with great conditions to get the crop into the ground. from then on things became dry and temperatures stayed elevated. so with a great kick off, things rapidly declined from there to the point where we are today where we're seeing a great expansive drought across the entire country including the green belt. >> the corn is pollinating right now. it's a minor miracle even when
the weather isn't bad. are the plants too stressed now by the drought to even pull it off? >> along with the dry conditions, we are seeing temperatures that have been quite warm as well. so put those two together and you do add a lot of stress to the crop as it is in that crucial pollination period where the yield is being set. so putting those two together in the green belt, we are seeing a lot of the crop being stressed and we are hearing of declines to the crop as we have moved forward over the last few weeks. >> suarez: david beckham, how does the weather percolate through the food industry and change the prices we see at the checkout counter. >> i think in this country it will have some impact probably next year but actually modest impact. because a lot of what we buy in the grocery store is packaging, marketing, transportation, manufacturing. so the price of green really
isn't going to affect dramatically our grocery prices. there will be some change. the big impact is actually among the poorest people in the world because poor people in the developing countries typically spend two thirds of all of their income on one grain. so it's rice. maybe two plates of rice a day. or two plates of some sort of corn dish a day. or wheat. it's usually one grain and that's two thirds of their total income. so over the last month the global price of grains has gone up 25%. if that gets translated into a 25% increase in what that local person can buy for corn, it means increased hunger. in 2008 when prices doubled in a year, 200 million people were
driven into hunger around the world. so that's, to my mind, i hate what's happening to farmers and a lot of people whose lives are being disrupted in this country. the life and death impact is what this will mean for hungry people around the world. >> suarez: brian looking at the united states do people realize how much of their food is really affected by those two key commodities, soy and corn. it has a tumbling dominoes effect in the oils in the sweeteners and the other ingredients that make up foods we don't even associate with grain. >> well i think it takes an event like this current drought situation to really shed some light to the consumer of where their food comes from and that trickle down of not only where the grains are being fed to different animals such as poultry and beef around the country but also what that means as far as marketing goes. and what areas of the country are being impacted. what the more knowledge that
consumers can gain and maybe they can understand a little bit more of where the food products are coming from, they'll understand that when the drought is impacting the corn belt, what it actually means to them as far as consumers go. >> suarez: an unusually high number of farmers brian a selling their livestock. is it because they're finding it too expensive to feed them and water them? >> what we have seen this year was a carryover of some of the drought conditions hitting the southern plains last year. in texas and oklahoma, many of the cattle ranchers down there needed forage and so a lot of hay and forge this year and the market on hay and forge for those cattle producers are getting to the point where they are calling their herd and
selling the animals off because it becomes cost prohibitive to maintain those herds at the current stocking right because of the drought. >> suarez: is there any give in the world food system than there used to be. some food experts are referring to a post surplus world where the number of mouths more closely matches the amount of food we're making. does this kind of event, this unusual drought worst than 56 years put more people in risk than we even realize. >> the system has changed in that world's population is currently wonderfully a lot of people are getting out of poverty around the world so they are eating more food. and there's going to be a growing demand for food. there already is all over the world. so that change has taken place. i think one thing that we're doing right as a world is investing in agriculture in poor countries around the world. helping poor farmer produce more, take advantage of higher
prices to make a living and also meet local needs. that's something that the u.s. has actually led over the last three or four years and something that ought to continue. that's in a certain way, there's more give in the system. when the prices jumped in 2008, it was a dramatic set back for lots of people. three or four years of countries in their own agriculture and assistance for their own people makes it less vulnerable this time around than 2008. >> suarez: quickly brian before we go, if the starts to rain in some of the most heavily affected places, is it too late for some crops or will some of the plants bounce back. >> we get a better yield. >> as the weeks go forward it's harder to reverse the impact of the crops as they sit today.
there is still some hope for the soybean crop that is out there that it typically sets its yield a little bit later in the summer. but much of the damage to the corn crop has been done and we're really going to start seeing the impact of the yield as the adjusters go out into the fields and actually see what the yield estimations will be for the harvest season. >> suarez: brian and david, gentleman, thank you both. on-line you can find maps of major droughts of years past including the dust bowl and these stories will now feed for nine billion exploring the challenges of feeding the world's population.
>> brown: now, the blame game in britain over security, less than two weeks before the start of the olympics. the global security giant known as g4s was contracted to do the job. but it's come under fire for not having hired enough people. simon israel of independent television news reports from london. >> according to the select committee today, the g4s logo now signifies unacceptable amateurish incompetence. this damning indictment came at the end of a grueling session to most of the world's biggest security firm who admitted g4s's reputation is in tatters. >> it's in shambles, isn't it. >> it's not where -- that is certain. >> it's humiliating shambles for the country. >> we cannot disagree with you. >> the committee picked its way through the anatomy of the olympic security fiasco firstly demanding to know where it all started to go wrong. the answer july 3rd, exactly two weeks ago. >> we were still confident earlier we could produce the numbers but more and more kept
going into the data and looked at the process and scheduling. day by day we started to realize the people we thought were going to be delivered couldn't. >> it then emerged that the world's third largest employer only got a contract on a vanity project to boost its reputation. >> you regret to find the contract saying to invite these people -- >> now we've got to get on and deliver it. >> so the question turns to what exactly could g4s now deliver having been bailed out by the police and the army. in cuff treaks some countries lined up that g4s wouldn't provide the necessary personnel. >> on what you've seen so far it's not possible that the government in the future -- when the need arises for them to do so. >> we need to manage that situation very carefully on a
day-to-day basis. >> that's not really an answer. you can't give me -- >> i cannot, no. >> you can't -- the contractors provide 10,400 jobs. do you know how many it will actually provide? >> it's a moving target in terms of what we believe we can do. and at the moment we've got 4,200 people working. our expectation is the minimum we would deliver is 7,000 on the ground. >> exploitation compounded by bad management was how another mp summed the performance of g4s. the examples of lack of contracts, paying back for the costs of training or uniform and applicants on the phone for hours getting no where. g4s's profit on the contract it said was 10 million pounds. the global company now stands to lose 40 to 5050 million having agreed to pay for the extra military police accommodation and even bonuses to cover the
shortfall. it was determined it said to recover the agreed 57 million pound management fee. >> 57 million fee and you still think you ought to claim it. >> yes. >> even after that's happened. >> we're still expected it. >> today's appearance did nothing to boost confidence in a company with 600 million pounds worth of contracts with the home office alone. the share price already 15% down since the failure's immerged tumbled further today. >> brown: olympic organizers scrambled today to reassure athletes and spectators. games chairman sebastian coe told reporters that a shortage of private guards will not affect the safety and security of the events. >> ifill: the presidential campaign is narrowly targeted this year to a handful of
battleground states: nevada, colorado, iowa, ohio, new hampshire, virginia, and florida. some also add wisconsin to that mix-- states where it is impossible to turn on the television without seeing a political ad. anna sale of wnyc public radio's "it's a free country" program set out to talk to the voters along the way. on this swing, she began in colorado, before heading off to iowa, wisconsin, and ohio. she joins us now from des moines. >> thank you. >> now, define for us what in your hip pocket, how do you define a swing state. >> well first swing states are states where polls are close and also that have swung back and forth over the last several presidential cycles. it's also the states where we're seeing the presidential campaigns focused all of their visits and their efforts. so we wanted to go to these states not in the shadow of these campaign rallies but to talk to voters this summer going about their daily business as
they're at shopping centers and fairs and at work and see what they're talking about outside the shadow of the campaign. >> no two of these states are very much alike. how do you decide to prioritize. how do you decide where to go. >> we decided to go to colorado because it's such an interesting state because it really, the obama campaign's western strategy sort of hinges on winning colorado. he's led in the polls there but that lead over mitt romney is shrinking. we wanted to go there and see what was going on. the western strategy is the idea that if the obama campaign can win colorado, nevada, new mexico and iowa, then they could be insulated against losing like ohio and flora. i saw the lack of enthusiasm for obama. he's had a consistent lead but very little enthusiasm for people who say they plan on voting for him again. even several obama supporters who said they voted for him several years ago they're so dissatisfied not that they are voting for mitt romney but
weighing whether they are going to the polls at all. >> people want to stay home. i'm curious who these voters exactly are. we talk board of director swing voters and independent voters and undecided voters and they're not necessarily the same thing, are they. >> no. in colorado decided to focus on suburban counties and hispanic voters. suburban counties have swung back and forth over the last couple cycles. where fort collins is and the two counties jefferson county and arapahoe county. talking to voters there i found what you would think of as the in voters, voters who voted for george w. bush during the 2000 and voted for obama in 2008, some high income voters who didn't like what obama was saying about the $250,000 expending the bush tax cuts. i found voters who are saying i think i might go for mitt romney this year after voting for obama four years ago. the reason i wanted to talk to hispanic voters is because what's interesting and happening in the polls in colorado is as mitt romney is gaining among
independentents you see obama widening his lead on latino voters. this is on the votes in black month about limiting deportation for young people. i wanted to go see if that has sort of ignited enthusiasm on hispanic voters and i was surprised to see not at all. i found voters who voted for the first time in 2008, really exspite to be a part of history and has been absolutely deflated and unexcited about what obama has done. when you talk to hispanic voters in colorado immigration is not the first thing that comes up at least in my conversations, it was the economy. and on that, they're just as disappointed as what you hear from other voters. >> you're in iowa tonight, we pay a lot of attention to in the campaign and don't come back to until four years later. do you find voters are saying the same types of things or are there different issues driving the voters in iowa? >> well, i was in county called adams county this morning, it's a rural county, a farming county and went for george w. bush in
2004 and obama four years ago and people were talking about the drought. they were talking about being afraid of this year's crop. what's been a relatively prosperous couple years for the farming community. this is relatively low unemployment in this rural county but one farmer told me despite that it's a county in terminal decline. they're looking for a plan from both mitt romney and barack obama but what i found talking to voters there not a lot of movement among who they voted four years ago not a lot of change. a lot who supported mccain supported mitt romney and those who supported obama four years ago planning to stick with him but need some nudging to be excited. >> in these three years since then, the economy has taken such a dive that it's become some kind of cliche that the economy is the number one issue. how do you break that down when you look at these voters. is there a democratic way of breaking down how people react to the stress of the economy.
>> that's interesting in a state like iowa it has about like 5% unemployment. jobs in the economy is still the first thing that people bring up and it's more a sense of i think anxiety about the direction of the country, wanting to know where we're going. so not so much i'm worried about my job or my kids' jobs because unemployment right here is better than other parts of the country. but a sense of wanting to know more from the candidates where we're going and neither candidate seems to be providing that because there's a lot of negative campaigning and all of my conversations. the conclusion is everybody's feeling a little bit negative. >> is there anything that's resonating with these voters either in the television ads or the visits the candidates makes to these states anything anybody is saying that making them at this early stage saying uh-huh that is what i want someone to say to me. >> not so much what i want someone to say to me but attacks
on both sides of the aisles i talked to voters even those who support mitt romney i know he's rich and i don't know that he understands what happens at my dinner table when we talk about our household budget and there are obama supporters that it's talking about, some sort of reservations not liking the obama campaign's message about prosperity and economic success. and so those sorts of, the mitt romney attacks on obama and president obama's attacks on romney both seem to be landing. but not a sense of oh finally someone's giving me a solution. voters seem to be hungering for that but not getting it at this stage of the campaign. >> enjoy your travels anna, talking to voters is a very good idea if we say so ourselves. thanks a lot. >> thank you. >> we posted anna's latest blog. >> ifill: we've posted anna's latest blog for itsafreecountry.org online, along with a map of where she's headed to next. you can try out your own november 6 scenarios in our vote
2012 map center. and you can share those electoral college predictions with your friends on facebook and twitter. that's all on our politics page. >> brown: next, new battle lines are being drawn in the rainforest of the americas, and billions of dollars are at stake. canadian mining companies hold about 1,400 properties in developing nations from mexico to argentina. one of those is in panama, where local groups have teamed up with environmental activists to halt the building of new mines. our story is a collaboration with cbc news in canada and the pulitzer center on crisis reporting. the producer is lynn burgess. the reporter is mellissa fung. >> ifill: follow the production >> deep in the panamanian rain forest more than three hours northwest of panama city, small agricultural communities got the landscape.
places that have remained unchanged for generations. he has lived in this town for more than 40 years. a subsistence farmer he lives on what he grows. planting coffee rice and beans and fish from nearby rivers. but his peaceful life he fears is changing. >> families typically grew their own food. however, are when the mining companies arrived and hired people, food had to be brought in from outside because nobody's left to cultivate the land. >> it's not good to eat the fish that is left in the river. he and other locals believe the cause is up stream where the country's only operating gold mine has been producing gold from its open pit since 2009.
he is the head of the sustainable panama foundation. >> we receive reports of fish dying and also animals that drink water from the river periodically. and with periods of heavy rainfall that cause toxins to overflow. those situations are very quickly so when you finally get there you can't prove that. but we know it's happening. and the authorities are not doing anything to prevent this. >> the mine is owned and operated by a company based in british columbia. the company's president, a native panamanian scoffs at the complaints. >> you see it yourself. every day up there that you do, there's hundreds of people swimming in the river. ha ha ha. that's the best testament how
true that is. >> around there it looks like one major construction zone. new roads, improved bridges. it's all part of another major project that's going up around richard's gold mine. immet mining of toronto is building what will be one of the biggest copper mines in the world. right in the middle of the rain forest. in part of what's known as the mezzo american biological corridor, a protected zone spanning seven countries and home to thousands of animal and plant species. some of them endangered. the copper mine will be massive compared to the gold mine. three open pits, a huge tailingmond and up on the caribbean coast a newport along with a coal powered energy plant to fuel its operation.
the prospect of all this development has pushed some of the locals here to protest. they built a road block disrupting traffic leading to both mine sites. the protest is led by carmelo joined by an indigenous leader. martin rodriguez and his group have hiked for hours in the jungle to take part. immet has built a school for their village an indigenous commune at the at the edge of the mine infected area. there were problems at the health center as well but at what costs he asks. >> they say they're going to give us a health center and a school. but i don't want that from them. i can see through that. how much destruction and pollution is there going to be. schools and health centers. that's the government's responsibility.
>> rodriguez and his group have actually tapped into a bigger movement for latin america. grassroots protests on to mining companies and in some cases winning. >> there's new mining concessions in guatemala, honduras, el salvador, equador. we've seen bantz now on open pit gold mining in costa rica and a ban on mining in peri glacier system in argentina. >> for their part the mining companies are trying to win over the locals by reaching out with day care programs for children. small business loans to their parents and promises of improved roads, schools and health centers. craig ford is the vice president of corporate responsibility in toronto. >> we're helping bringing the
government into the area to discharge the responsibility in areas where they haven't in in the past. it's a very positive outcome to the local community to increased access to healthcare and education and we're proud of that. >> immet's plans for the mine call for 22 square miles of rain forest to be taken down. work has already started. >> they estimate that some 7% of the world's biodiversity lives within the biological corridor and one of the most pristine areas is in northern panama where these occur and they are developing their projects. >> the company hopes to start producing copper here by 2016. >> ifill: follow the production team's trek through remote villages in panama online, where you'll find an interactive map showing the canadian mines in latin america. that material was gathered by mcgill university researchers for the cbc-pulitzer center
project. you can click the link on our web site later tonight. >> brown: finally tonight, a rock and roll mystery solved, perhaps. it centers on a famous fender stratocaster bob dylan played when he first "went electric" in 1965 at the newport folk festival. elyse luray and wes cowan are two of the host sleuths on pbs' primetime program "history detectives," and their investigation into the dylan guitar airs on the season premiere tonight. i had a chance to talk to elyse luray about it yesterday. but first, here's an excerpt from the program. >> for more than 40 years this guitar has been in my family. my dad was a private pilot for bob dylan. the guitar was left on one of his planes and he took it home.
after he died, i watched a documentary about bob dylan and it shows footage of the first time that he played an electric guitar live. it was exactly like the guitar that my dad had left in our family's attic. i want to know if this is the guitar that bob dylan played when he plugged in at the newport folk festival in 1965. >> the story of dylan being booed for using an electric guard is a legendary moment in music's history but the guitar's whereabouts has long remained a history. >> rochester new york. he's authenticated guitars for the rock and roll hall of fame.
>> here's the date. >> the 2nd of may, 64. so it's a match. >> this is the right thing so this is great. >> this is really great. >> the guitar is dated one year and two months before newport. but is it the fender he played that night? my office has made what may be a break through. we ran down a photographer, john rudolph who was 17 year old that summer night in rhode island. >> this is the 1965 newport festival. >> he took what may have been the best and clearest images of dylan that night and his controversial guitar. >> joining me now is history detective elyse luray. so you think you got the actual guitar. we showed a little snippet of all the evidence you gathered. what is the key thing for you.
>> the key thing was some of the parts. obvious thing the fingerprints that we're calling fingerprints we thought we had the guitar. but it was the song, having the lyrics and the guitar case and some other stuff that came with the piece and then the guitar. it was everything together that made a compelling case. >> you seem to have roused something of a controversy though because the lawyer for dylan claims he still thinks he has the guitar >> yes, there's definitely some controversy out there. you know, we contacted dylan about six months ago to talk about the story. mainly because we wanted to get into the morgan library because that's where all of his lyrics are and you have to have his permission to get in there. we didn't know, we didn't ever hear anything back from him saying the guitar was stolen or he had the guitar. last week we got this statement. so we'd love to see his guitar to either learn if we made a mistake and how we made the mistake or if we have the real thing. >> now, you lay out the
importance of this guitar in your story. its importance in rock and role history, legendary moment in that history. but i wonder if you were still surprised by the passions that it seemed to arouse from the people that you met along the way. >> after doing the show for ten years, passion doesn't surprise me for any piece because that's the beauty of the show. i'm a memorabilia specialist, i've been doing this for 20 years. i used to be in the memorabilia department so passion drives a lot of collectors. so that part wasn't surprising to me. i think the surprise is that it's rock and roll history and it's a pivotal moment in rock and roll history. after dylan plugs in and goes electric, we start seeing the movement of blues coming into rock and roll and at the same time he's changing, we have the rolling stones coming in and changing, we have hendricks changing. it's a really big movement not just in rock and roll history but parallel to american
history. it all works for me. >> how does a story like this start for you. this one and others, how did this one in particular come your way? >> >> he came to us, don beaterson came to us all the stories in the history come from people who have folklore about their pieces and they say i think i have this piece and i want to know and 90% of the time we're like yeah right. this time in tickets like no way me has his guitar. we called rolling stone and we called the rock and roll hall of fame if they knew where the guitar was and they're like we haven't seen it in 40 years. and i said this is never going to be shown. they all come to us and people submit over the internet or through mail and we try to research it. >> what happens to this guitar now? could it be sold or auction. it would have to be authenticated even more. what's the process? >> well, i mean does it need to be authenticated any more?
no. we do need to see dylan's guitar at some point to make sure we strongly believe we have the guitar. i would love to see the one in his possession so we can compare the two and see really which one is the one that was used at the newport folk festival. remember he played this guitar for a while. it wasn't just at the newport jazz festival -- folk festival. he played it for a while. the story was brought to us and for us the story was really about authenticating the guitar and really showing the viewers the process as to what we do to go through to authenticate something. as well as connecting it to american history and telling a compelling story. so that's what we're here today. you know, if she sells it or gives it back to dylan and it goes to the rock and roll hall of fame that's not really for us to decide. that's kind of for them to decide. >> all right.
elyse luray of the his police detectives. thanks so much. >> thanks jeff. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. a new report showed six big states face dire budget crises, and with no clear end in sight. but the chairman of the federal reserve offered no hint of new stimulus action. and the fighting escalated in syria's capital city for a third day, as hundreds of people fled to neighboring jordan and turkey. online, is the u.s. on track to surpass the russians and the saudis in oil production? kwame holman has more. >> holman: one analyst predicts that will happen by 2020 but is it an environmentalist's nightmare? that's on our making sense page. on our health page, we have the story of scientists in tanzania working to unlock the secrets of stopping the aids virus. that's part of our partnership with global post. plus, tonight's edition of frontline profiles students at an inner city high school in philadelphia, as they design and build a super-hybrid car.
find a link to "fast times at west philly high" and much more at newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at a native american tribe in the northwest facing a new threat to salmon fishing: rising temperatures. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you for joining us. good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. and the william and flora >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting.
>> this is "bbc world news america." funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu, newman's own foundation, shell, and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to know your business, offering specialized solutions and capital to help you meet your growth objectives. we offer expertise and tailored solutions for small businesses and major corporations. what can we do for you?
>> at shell, we believe the world needs a broader mix of energies. that's why we're supplying cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity. ourit's also why, with partner in brazil, shell is producing ethanol, a biofuel made from renewable sugar cane. >> a minute, mom! >> let's broaden the world's energy mix. let's go. >> and now, "bbc world news." >> this as "bbc world news america." fighting intensifies in the syrian capital as rebel forces claim the battle to liberate damascus has begun. another big bank c